How wilderness contributes to the Green Infrastructure programme
The importance of wilderness and wild areas to a fully functioning ecosystem is stressed in a campaign launched by Wild Europe.
The EC’s Green Infrastructure programme seeks to establish priorities for restoration in particular, as related to Target 2 of the new EU Biodiversity Strategy which focuses on reinstatement of 15% of degraded ecosystems in Europe by 2020.
"There is much the EC can do to enhance the already substantial contribution of wilderness to its Green Infrastructure programme – and it isn’t just about paying the bill. Facilitating new and innovative funding opportunities from ecosystem services and other sources is an equally important role”, said Toby Aykroyd, Wild Europe director.
"The Green Infrastructure programme should also promote a strong protection agenda, focusing for example on inclusion of wilderness - particularly all remaining old growth forest - in forest management plans. It’s far cheaper to keep an existing ecosystem intact than to restore a degraded one."
The benefits of wilderness and wild areas have a substantial role to play in supporting the objectives of the Green Infrastructure programme.
Call for assessment of progress on parliamentary wilderness resolution
In February 2009, the European Parliament passed a Resolution, by an overwhelming 538 votes, calling for improved protection and funding for Europe’s last wilderness areas.
Over four years later, there is growing support for an assessment of what has been achieved by the Commission and Member States in heeding this request.
The Resolution contained seven key elements:
- Better protection of wilderness areas
- Management of wilderness in Natura 2000 areas
- Developing wilderness areas
- Promotion of wilderness areas
- Wilderness and climate change
- Definition and mapping of wilderness
- Tackling alien species in wilderness areas
Wild Europe, in tandem with PAN Parks Foundation, is launching a proposal to review progress with implementation of the Resolution and identify priorities for action still required.·
This should be paralleled by an appraisal of achievement with recommendations contained in the ‘Message from Prague’ at the wilderness conference organized by Wild Europe in May 2009.
Heeding the mandate for wilderness
The European parliamentary Resolution constituted a massive populist endorsement of the importance of wilderness by Europe’s directly elected representatives.
At a time when budget cuts are enforcing ever more stringent prioritisation, it is important to ensure appropriate attention is being paid by the Commission and Member States to this issue.
The value of wilderness was stressed during a forum on wilderness organized by PAN Parks and Wild Europe at the Parliament in January 2012, where the European Commission’s Stefan Leiner, Head of Natura 2000 Unit, confirmed that “wilderness is an essential mainstream element of the European Biodiversity Strategy.”
Wild Europe definition of wilderness finalised
A working definition of wilderness and wild areas has been developed by Wild Europe. It will enable a standardised yet flexible approach to protection and restoration of these areas, across the wide variety of bio-geographic and cultural circumstances in Europe.
The definition focuses on management practicalities and outlines a range of criteria in relation to size, biodiversity, natural processes and human impact. Emphasis is placed on ensuring the health and integrity of ecosystems, as well as providing benefits for local communities, landholders and visitors.
The definition has already been adopted in recently published EC guidelines on non intervention management and the EC Wilderness Register, currently under development.
‘Wild Nephin’ launched on former commercial forest land
Support from Irish Prime Minister, EU President
11,000 hectares of former commercial forest, blanket bog and grassland has been inaugurated and acclaimed as Ireland’s first area subscribing to key principles of wilderness.
Hailed as a major initiative by the Irish Prime Minster, Enda Kenny TD, who also holds office currently as EU President, Wild Nephin is set in spectacular landscape in the North West.
It is unveiled at a time when new sites for wild nature are being assessed and created across Europe, including restoration or ‘rewilding’ of former forestry and farmland which is often unviable for commercial production. The economic and social benefits of wildness for local communities can provide an additional motive.
The Million Hectare protection project moves ahead
The Million Hectare Project aims to safeguard 1 million hectares of European wilderness by 2015. Launched by PAN Parks, the initiative will build partnerships with managements of protected areas.
It offers an urgently needed opportunity to upgrade the current scale of protection for wilderness. Although the World Database of Protected Areas cites more than 1 million hectares of wilderness in Europe, many are threatened and the areas involved are often comparatively small and fragmented.
Who can become a Wilderness Partner?
Eligibility to join PANParks Europe-wide wilderness movement is extended to protected areas containing wilderness (see definition) that are willing where necessary to improve their wilderness management. Who can become a Wilderness Partner?
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Wild Europe 2012 - 2013
2012 was a successful year for Wild Europe and its partner organizations, and 2013 is proving equally fruitful.
Much of our work does not appear on the website. Instead of providing regular updates, we generally report progress on a particular initiative once this has been concluded.
For a strategic outline of our achievements and our aims, see our Achievements & Objectives
Economic Benefits Group to be established
The economic benefits group will be tasked with identifying, valuing and promoting the economic benefits of wilderness and wild areas, with focus on non extractive, no-impact benefits derived from ecotourism, ecosystem services and usage for social betterment.
The group will initially comprise business people, economists, ecosystem specialists, landowners, farmers, social enterprise entrepreneurs – all of whom share a profound regard for wilderness as well as contributing their professional expertise.
While the true intrinsic value of the wild is priceless, there is no doubt that realization of its economic value can attract support for its protection and expansion.
Further details will be announced in due course.